The calculus of Christmas

Editor's Note: What follows is a Letter to the Editor. Occasionally, I'll opt to place them on the online version of the paper. Both of today's letters can be found online.

Dear Editor,

Each year I often comment on the difficulty in finding the spirit around the holidays. Bombarded by awful news on TV, a flood of relentlessness from social media, it even seems personal interactions arenít complete these days without a line being drawn in the sand. Perhaps itís the high degree of religious and political issues that are current, two things that strike the nerve of even the most docile. Either way itís a damn shame. The holiday season has enough obstacles to overcome, many unique and personal to each humanís celebration. Itís the personal battles around the holidays the show the vigilance of the spirit, the carry on credo that is the coal fire in the steam engine of perseverance. For every opinion, every way that someone feels about an issue, there are years of decisions, consequences, influences, and emotions that pave the road of preference, and like our DNA, it is exclusively different than the next.

The holidays were always an escape for that. The lights on the house for 40 years were a reason to forget about the tragedy lining the nightly news. The quest for the perfect Christmas tree was a daylong event highlighted with joy, masking the political imperfections of an election year. Watching friends light the menorah erased any differences we might have had; we stood back and realized we were all drinking the same glass of eggnog. So why does it feel like this year has been so much more of a struggle to raise the spirit as opposed to years past? For one, Iím not sitting in an airport with Evelyn the angel. God bless that little girl and the hope her mere presence generates. This year itís different. And the more I sit and ponder about it, the more difficult it is for me to put my finger on one sole reason.

A wise man once told me that if it is difficult to understand something, keep breaking its elements down into that what you can. As a results driven person, this came easy to me. Science and logic, math, these were terms that I could agree with. Surely there was much more to it, or had I already gone off the path? It doesnít seem like math and science have room for emotion and opinion. Another word enters the arena. Application. The application of math to the holiday struggle? Could it be the help Iíve been looking for?

Multiplication. At the heart of the holiday spirit struggle is the elemental battle of getting it to catch on, multiply if you will. Sometimes itís a heartwarming story, other times itís bearing witness to an act of selflessness; something that starts out with one, but turns into many. It is our privilege as a human being to be able to reach another in a way that inspires and alleviates the anxiety and calamity of the world, and our holiday duty to do so. The Chenango County Sheriffs are a prime example this holiday season. Their selflessness and dedication to the Shop with a Sheriff program has sparked a buzz in the community with itís incredible outreach program to those less fortunate. On social media outlets alone, tear filled accounts from witnesses of the program flood the internet for days surrounding the event, no doubt multiplying the holiday spirit exponentially in our community. What a great example and what a great job they have done.

Division. Most can agree that division often times comes with a negative connotation. Many people are ďdividedĒ over political views, or the ďdivisionĒ among religious folks is apparent. Itís hard to incorporate the term in to a feel good article. Being that as it may, itís our divided views that make us greater together, and during this trying time of year, itís important to remember that an opposing opinion is not wrong, itís just not yours. I, personally, have learned more in life from my mistakes than my successes. The key is to not let our division be a source of debate, but to let it be millions of conglomerate pieces that make up the brick of humanity, a brick that is essentially good, a brick that symbolizes the unity of mankind. Let the holiday season divide of us from the painful pictures we see, the terrible stories we hear, let the division be between that what holds us down and that what beckons us to rise to the occasion. Do not let division be in the hearts of your fellow man this holiday season. Be a fountain, not a drain.

Addition. noun

1. the act or process of adding or uniting.

Uniting is a powerful word. The holiday season is a powerful time. Itís no secret they go in hand. It goes without saying that if there was one wish to be granted, it would be that all of mankind could stand united during this time of year. Itís a grand thought that is the foundation of the holiday spirit, a thought that eradicates the shadows of division and illuminates the value of human life. The process of adding to a cause or effort beneficial to the human race, addition may be the one mathematical term that is easiest to apply. Add joy to your life. Add joy to otherís lives. Add samaritan contribution to the world. Add positivity. Add inspiration. Add humor. Add love.

Subtraction. Terms that are apparent to subtract from the holidays: negativity, hate, intolerance. The list could go on and on. Subtraction and division can go closely related, however that is the challenge that faces the human race not only during this time of year, but plagues us all year long. To subtract the negativity from our lives while not dividing mankind further. It seems an almost insurmountable feat, however if there is a time of year where it can be accomplished, it is now. It is now, with the help of charity and compassion, we make childrenís dreams come true. It is now that we give the sick a cure. It is now that we subtract fear from the equation and replace it with hope. It is now that we encourage our fellow man to get onboard and make the world a better place, if not for only one month at a time. The holiday spirit begs you to subtract anger and greed from a world that celebrates its division, and add to the wave of acceptance and tolerance multiplying throughout this month.

Some may say,Ēif only it was that simpleÖĒ

I say, let it be. Let it be simple. Let it be easy to be happy. Let it be easy to help your neighbor.

Each year, members of the community get together Christmas night at 8 p.m. for a festival of giving and joy. For three years now, we have affectionately called it The Christmas Classic. It takes place at Park Place Sports Bar and Grill in Norwich, NY at 8 p.m. on December 25th. With cooperation and gracious donation from the Cirello family, we open to celebrate the holiday, give people who wouldnít have a place to go a haven of jovial tides for the evening. Ryan Revoir of Rockstar DJ service notably donates his time, equipment, and prowess on the mic each and every Christmas night. All tips and gratuities raised by myself and the usual cast of charitable souls will be donated to The American Cancer Society, a cause we all have personal ties to. Park Place has also pledged an incredible 25% of the evenings sales towards the final donation. Please join us after the craziness of the day starts to slow down, thereís a place for everyone at our table. We look forward to see everyone and we thank everyone in advance for their continued support of this great event!

As always, we would not be here today if it werenít for our troops overseas and here on American soil. We owe our veterans and active duty service men and women a tremendous debt of gratitude. Our daily struggles become pale in comparison to the sheer hell that some of our veterans endure on a daily basis. There is no math equation to break down their inspiration and drive. The red, white, and blue course through their veins, their pride in their country and the freedom of their fellow man being their bond. Let us never forget those who allow us to live the great lives we do. Remember in your prayers for peace this holiday season to include those who have given the ultimate price for it.

Thank you all and Happy Holidays!

John H. Kampe

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